Diabetes – Are You at Risk?

diabetes - are you at riskAt Fresh Therapeutics our trained pharmacists support people with Diabetes Type I or Type II and help people recognise their risk of developing Type II diabetes.

Diabetes is recognised as the world’s fastest growing chronic condition. The number of people with type 2 diabetes is growing in each country. In 2015, the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas estimated that:

  •         one in 11 adults has diabetes (415 million)
  •         one in seven births is affected by gestational diabetes
  •         three-quarters (75%) of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries
  •         542,000 children have type 1 diabetes
  •         every six seconds a person dies from diabetes (5 million deaths).

Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and also the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system. In Australia, 280 people develop diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes. More than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year. The total annual cost impact of diabetes in Australia is estimated at $14.6 billion.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood. This happens if the body is not producing insulin or if insulin is not working properly. Glucose is a particular type of sugar – it is needed to provide energy for the body. Insulin is required to enable glucose to enter the body’s cells and be converted to energy. Insulin also allows glucose to be stored in muscle, the liver, and other tissues.

There are a number of different types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas does not produce insulin. This type represents 10–15% of all cases of diabetes and is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in developed nations. Type 1 diabetes is not caused by lifestyle factors. There is no cure and it cannot be prevented.

Most people with diabetes (85-90% of cases), have type 2 diabetes. They still produce insulin but it does not work as well or the pancreas does not make enough insulin. It usually affects mature adults, but younger people, even children, are now getting type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is more common in people who have low levels of physical activity or are overweight or obese, but it also occurs in people who have a family history of diabetes and people with other risk factors (e.g. increasing age or poor diet).

Less well known is gestational diabetes – a form of diabetes that occurs in pregnancy and mostly disappears after the birth. This type may be caused by the woman’s body not being able to make enough insulin or not being able to use it correctly during pregnancy. It is usually found by having a blood test between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. People with pre-diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

A balanced diet and regular physical activity are key elements of preventing and managing diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the chance of getting diabetes. While the underlying causes of obesity are complex, the resulting problems are well known; type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease, osteoarthritis and sleep apnoea are some of these problems.

It is important to take a balanced view with regard to nutrition, drawing on a range of foods rather than focusing on single nutrients as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. No single food is responsible for weight gain

Visit Fresh Therapeutics Pharmacies to learn more about diabetes and how it can be managed. If you have any of the risk factors for diabetes such as excess weight or smoking, now is the perfect time to ask our pharmacists about lifestyle changes.

At Fresh Therapeutics we offer a range of resources and support for diabetes including:

  •         diabetes screening tests with referrals to your doctor
  •         diabetes management services including monitoring of blood glucose levels, weight and diabetes medicines
  •         advice on diabetes medicines
  •         review of diabetes medicines
  •         weight management services
  •         blood glucose monitoring devices
  •         supply of blood glucose test strips as part of the National Diabetes Services Scheme
  •         quit smoking products and services
  •         health information including Self Care Fact Cards.

You can also purchase a range of products stocked by the Diabetes NSW shop at Fresh Therapeutics Broadway including:

  •         blood glucose monitors (Roche GuideÒ, PerformaÒ, Dario Smart MeterÒ, Abbott FreestyleÒ, Bayer Contour NextÒ
  •         blood glucose and ketone strips (Roche Accu-chekÒ, Freestyle Optium Ò, DarioÒ, OneTouch VarioÒ, Bayer ContourÒ, TRUEtrakÒ, CareSenseÒ)
  •         a range of sharps collection containers
  •         Lancets and Lancing devices (FastclixÒ SoftclixÒ, MulticlixÒ, CarelanceÒ,
  •         Diabetes Travel Packs (FrioÒ, MedactivÒ, Diabet-EzyÒ)
  •         Hypo treatments (GlucodinÒ,TrueplusÒ)
  •         Diaries and Test wipes (WebcolÒ Novo DiaryÒ)
  •         Needles (NovoÒ, BDÒ,  and Pens (Sanofi ClikSTARÒ, Lily Huma PenÒ, NovoPenÒ
  •         Medical Identification
  •         Skin care (Eulactol GoldÒ Heel Balm, EpadermÒ, EgoÒ, AveeniÒ)
  •         Blood Pressure Monitors (OmronÒ, MicrolifeÒ)

You can join Diabetes Australia at Fresh Therapeutics.  We provide the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care Fact Cards include Blood glucose monitoring, Diabetes type 1, Diabetes type 2, and Weight and health as well information about how to engage with the NSW Health Get Healthy service.

Fresh-Therapeutics-Blog-Men's-Health-Featured-Image

Men’s Health

This year, the theme of Men’s Health Week is ‘Healthy Body – Healthy Mind: Keeping the Balance’. This theme explores the different ways men and boys are managing to keep healthy – physically and emotionally – in a busy and sometimes challenging world. From 12–18 June 2017, communities around the country will come together to create events, promotions and activities tailored to the needs of men and boys.

Men and boys face different health and wellbeing concerns than women and girls, and Men’s Health Week is an opportunity to both acknowledge their differences and look for ways to improve the health and wellbeing of men and boys throughout Australia.

There is an ongoing, increasing and mostly silent crisis in the health and wellbeing of men and boys. Due to a lack of awareness, poor health education, and culturally conditioned behaviour patterns in their work and personal lives, the health and wellbeing of men and boys is an area of concern. In Australia and in several other countries, men and boys experience significantly higher rates of addiction, violence, crime, accident and premature death in comparison to their female counterparts. Life expectancy for men is around four years less than that of women (80.1 years compared to 84.3 years).

Men also show significantly higher rates of death from cancer, heart disease, homicide and suicide. Australia has taken a leading role in establishing Men’s Health Week as a well-known and clearly-defined event that focuses attention on men’s health and wellbeing issues and stimulates health promoting activities at all levels.

The National Male Health Policy (released in May 2010) provides a framework for improving male health across Australia – with a focus on taking action on multiple fronts. It identifies six priority areas for action. These are to promote:

  • Priority 1: Optimal health outcomes for males.
  • Priority 2: Health equity between population groups of males.
  • Priority 3: Improved health for males at different life stages.
  • Priority 4: A focus on preventive health for males.
  • Priority 5: Building a strong evidence base on male health.
  • Priority 6: Improved access to health care for males.

A clear opportunity exists for health and other organisations – public, voluntary and private, national and local – to work together to focus attention on key men’s health issues and to develop practical initiatives that can make a difference to the health of Australian men.

During Men’s Health Week let’s reach out to Aussie men and boys and create events that respond to the issues impacting on the health of men, boys and their families in your local area– useful men’s health information, event ideas and contacts, as well as other resources, are available from www.menshealthweek.org.au

Most men’s health problems are preventable. What is required is a new approach to health interventions and health promotion which delivers messages to men that their health and wellbeing is important and encourages men to access health services more regularly to set up a health maintenance plan with their doctor. Many men typically do not access medical, allied health or welfare services in a timely way when their health and wellbeing is at risk. Accordingly health services need to review their way of operating and be mindful of making their services more men friendly.

At Fresh Therapeutics our pharmacists can advise on men’s health and an encourage men to have their blood pressure, weight and BMI and alcohol intake checked. We provide advice on the various local services available for smoking cessation, weight management, alcohol management and exercise. We also provide information and advice on the medicines you take.

At Fresh Therapeutics you can get more detailed information in the Self Care Fact Cards on  Men’s health, Erectile dysfunction, Exercise and the Heart, Fat and Cholesterol  and Prostate problems.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is an eye disease that can cause vision loss and is potentially blinding. It runs in families. If someone in your family has glaucoma, you are up to 10 times more likely to develop glaucoma. You probably have never noticed or even thought about glaucoma, as it is rarely discussed. In Australia, approximately 300,000 people have glaucoma. However, about half of these people don’t even know they have it. Generally, there is no pain associated with glaucoma, and the loss of sight is gradual. Peripheral vision (side vision) is usually affected first, and many people don’t even notice it’s gone.

In glaucoma, the optic nerve, located at the back of the eye, is damaged. This may happen if the pressure in the eye increases. Fluid in the eye should drain away, lowering eye pressure. But in glaucoma, the fluid doesn’t drain away properly, slowly destroying the optic nerve, which eventually leads to blindness. The optic nerve can also become damaged by certain medicines, such as steroids, and some medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

There are some simple things you can do to ‘beat invisible glaucoma’, such as having regular and comprehensive eye checks. These checks must include measurement of eye fluid pressure, review of the optic nerve and assessment of visual field loss. Optometrists and ophthalmologists conduct these tests.

So who should have a comprehensive eye test? Anyone who:

  • has a family history of glaucoma
  • is over 40 years of age
  • is having trouble seeing
  • has taken certain medicines, such as steroids for lung conditions
  • has diabetes
  • has high blood pressure
  • has had a serious eye injury.

The good news is that, if you are found to have glaucoma, it is treatable. Although damage to the optic nerve is not reversible, further damage to your eyesight can be stopped or slowed down. People with glaucoma are usually prescribed eye drops to lower the pressure in their eyes. Eye drops must be used regularly and exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Ask your pharmacist if you are unsure how to use eye drops. Sometimes, laser treatment, eye surgery or a combination of treatments is needed.

This year, World Glaucoma Week is 12–18 March.

At Fresh Therapeutics we encourage you to learn more about this condition. We have Pharmaceutical Society Self Care Fact Cards with information about Glaucoma and the Glaucoma Association that provides support to glaucoma suffers.  If you have glaucoma we can assist you with understanding how your medicines work, how to store and apply your drops and tell you about possible side effects.

WORLD ASTHMA DAY | Asthma Action Plan

World Asthma Day (2nd May 2017) is an annual event organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), which works with health care professionals and groups around the world to reduce asthma prevalence, morbidity and mortality.

People with asthma have sensitive airways in their lungs which can make breathing difficult when certain triggers cause the airways to narrow because:

  • the lining of the airways become swollen and inflamed, producing sticky mucus
  • the muscles around the airways tighten.

Asthma affects more than two million Australians. It cannot be cured but can be well controlled with medicines and lifestyle. This can allow you to live a normal and active life, free from symptoms of asthma including:

  • wheezing or a whistling sound with breathing
  • coughing
  • breathlessness
  • feeling tight in the chest
  • finding it hard to breathe.

Symptoms can vary over time, and often occur at night, early in the morning, or during or just after activity. Children may also say they have a sore tummy, not eat or drink as much, or may get tired quickly.

The management of asthma aims to prevent asthma symptoms. Avoiding triggers and using asthma medicines correctly can help you manage your asthma and also prevent lung damage from asthma. Many triggers can cause asthma symptoms such as:

  • allergens you breathe in (e.g. from house dust mites, pollens, moulds, animal hair)
  • air pollution (e.g. cigarette smoke, dust)
  • colds and flu
  • cold air or a drop in air temperature
  • exercise or physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
  • certain medicines (e.g. aspirin, anti-inflammatory pain relievers, beta-blockers, echinacea, royal jelly)
  • strong smells and fumes (e.g. chemicals, paints, perfumes, cleaning agents)
  • emotional upset, stress, anxiety
  • some foods and food preservatives, flavourings and colourings.

Visit your doctor or health clinic regularly so they can assess your asthma symptoms, review your asthma management and medicines, and help you write an Asthma Action Plan for when your asthma gets worse.

You can control your asthma well by managing the factors that trigger it and by using asthma medicines correctly. Most asthma medicines are inhaled (breathed) into the lungs.

The main types of asthma medicines are called relievers and preventers. Relievers are short-term medicines that open airways quickly by relaxing the muscles around the airways. Preventers are long-acting medicines.

Asthma makes the lining of your airways inflamed (red and swollen). Preventers help to reduce the inflammation and reduce the amount of mucus in airways. They also make airways less sensitive to asthma triggers. They can prevent asthma symptoms and lung damage if used every day.

Relievers:

  • help relieve asthma symptoms within a few minutes. Their effect can last for 4–6 hours (short-acting)
  • should be used only ‘as needed’ for quick relief
  • may be used before exercise, to prevent exercise-induced asthma.

Some inhalers contain a combination of a corticosteroid preventer and a long-acting reliever in the same inhaler device.

Preventers:

  • must be used or taken every day, even when you don’t have any symptoms
  • may take several weeks to improve symptoms
  • will not relieve an asthma attack once it has started.

Some people need to use preventers for only a few weeks or months of the year, but other people need to use preventers all year round. If you do not get asthma symptoms and rarely use your reliever, ask your doctor to review your asthma medicines. Preventers should not be stopped unless advised by a doctor.

The aim of asthma treatment is to prevent symptoms. You should use your preventer or combination inhaler every day. Use your reliever only when needed. Always read and follow instructions carefully.

See a doctor or follow your Asthma Action Plan if you:

  • need to use a reliever more than two days a week
  • have daytime asthma symptoms more than two days a week
  • use the whole reliever inhaler in less than a month
  • have asthma symptoms during the night
  • find physical activity hard because of asthma
  • notice your peak flow readings getting worse
  • have an asthma flare-up.

At Fresh Therapeutics our pharmacists check your inhaler technique and help you select a spacer if needed. We also provide information about asthma and asthma medicines with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care Fact Cards Asthma and Asthma medicine. The Asthma Fact Card includes an Asthma First Aid Plan with information about what to do in the event of an acute asthma episode.

Living with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinsons Disease | Fresh TherapeuticsThis week (10-17 April) is Parkinson’s Awareness Week. In Australia, Parkinson’s Australia is the national peak body and charity representing Australians living with Parkinson’s, and has a wide range of information sheets and advice available on their website: www.parkinsons.org.au

Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS), and it is one of many neurological conditions. In Parkinson’s disease, nerve cells in the brain degenerate. There is no known cause, however there are many theories, and it is generally thought that multiple factors are responsible. Increasing age, being male and head injuries may increase the risk, while genetics may also play a role. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease have insufficient levels of the chemical dopamine. This lack of dopamine means people can have difficulty controlling their movements and moving freely. Impact on other body systems can also occur, such as on sense of smell, thinking and mood.

According to Parkinson’s Australia approximately 70,000 Australians live with Parkinson’s disease. The average age of diagnosis is 65 years. However younger people can also be affected, and the term ‘young onset’ is used for those diagnosed between 21-40.

Scientists and researchers have not yet been able to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. However, treatments are available to manage symptoms and assist people to live a fulfilling and productive life.

Each case of Parkinson’s disease is unique, with everyone exhibiting varying symptoms. For example, not all people get tremors and for some, the first symptom can be movement problems. Some of the main symptoms include:

  • tremor, or shaking
  • rigidity, or muscle stiffness
  • bradykinesia, or slowness of movement
  • freezing
  • stooped posture
  • shuffling gait

Parkinson’s disease can be disabling. However, there are many tools which can lead to better quality of life for those with Parkinson’s disease, and your local pharmacy can help.

With modern medicine, symptoms can be managed. The main aim of medicinal therapies is to increase the level of dopamine. As Parkinson’s disease affects each person differently it is important to individually tailor medicine regimens accordingly. As the disease progresses, and dopamine production is reduced, it is quite common for people to need their medicine regimes altered.

One of the key aspects of managing Parkinson’s disease is medicine management. Medicine must be taken at the correct time to allow for absorption time and the attainment of therapeutic levels. Factors such as diet also need to be considered when taking medicine. At Fresh Therapeutics our Pharmacists can assist you to gain the maximum benefit from the medicine, while keeping side effects to a minimum. Our pharmacists can help with advice and counselling – discussing what the medicine is for, what benefits should be expected, possible side effects and their management, drug interactions and how to keep an accurate record so information can be given to the doctor at each visit.  There are several medicines that can worsen the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease and our pharmacists can provide a list of the medicines to watch.

People with Parkinson’s Disease may have difficulty swallowing which makes oral medicines difficult to take. At Fresh Therapeutics we can compound most medicines into a liquid or other dosage form to achieve drug levels to help manage the disease.  We also stock Gloup a medication lubricant that makes taking tablets and medications a more pleasant and safer experience for the patient.

At Fresh Therapeutics we can also provide home delivery and medicine management services such as dose administration aids (DAAs. Fresh Therapeutics can also be a point of contact to reduce social isolation and depression which can be experienced in Parkinson’s disease.

Our pharmacists can also talk through other problems that impact on Parkinson’s disease such as constipation, depression and falls.  We provide the   Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care Fact Cards on  Preventing falls, Constipation and Depression and we can help with detailed information on managing the costs of medicine.

Depression

This year, the theme of the World Health Day campaign is depression.

In any one year, about one million people in Australia experience depression. One in six women and one in eight men will experience depression at some time in their lives. Depression is much worse than feeling sad or ‘low’ for a while after an unhappy or stressful event. It is a serious illness that changes the way a person thinks, feels and behaves.

Chemical changes in the brain are thought to contribute to depression. A number of factors may contribute to its development. These include emotional stress (e.g. loss of a loved one, relationship problems, unemployment), hormonal changes (e.g. after childbirth, menopause), alcohol and drug abuse, certain medicines and medical conditions (e.g. cancer, diabetes, stroke, chronic pain), other mental illnesses (e.g. anxiety, dementia, schizophrenia), personal factors (e.g. loneliness), certain personality traits (e.g. negative thinking patterns, low self-esteem), and a family history of depression.

Symptoms of depression can include sadness, feeling miserable, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, changes in weight or appetite, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, lack of energy, difficulty thinking, concentrating and making decisions, feelings of worthlessness, headaches, stomach or muscle pains, and thoughts of suicide or death. If you have had any of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, talk to your doctor. If you are a parent, look out for these symptoms in your teenagers.

Depression is often not recognised and can go on for months or even years if not treated. Untreated depression can have many negative effects on a person’s life, including serious relationship problems, difficulty finding and keeping a job, and drug and alcohol problems. Depression is unlikely to go away on its own, and each person needs to find the right treatment for them. It is important to seek support as early as possible – the sooner a person gets treatment, the sooner they can recover.

There are several different types of treatment for depression. More than one form of treatment may be needed. Treatments used include psychotherapy (such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy) and antidepressant medicines, or a combination of the two. Psychotherapy can help you change unhelpful patterns of thinking and acting and improve coping skills. Antidepressant medicines can correct chemical changes in the brain. There are many different types of antidepressants, and you may need to try several before finding one that suits you.

There are also a number of things you can do yourself to help reduce the symptoms of depression. Regular exercise can create positive feeling and improve mood. Getting enough sleep on a regular basis, eating a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol can also be helpful. Learning and using relaxation techniques can help relax your body and mind. Let family and friends know how you are feeling. Although they may not fully understand what you’re going through, they may be able to give you extra support. Always check with a doctor or pharmacist before using complementary medicines or alternative therapies to treat depression. They can interact with certain prescription medicines.

At Fresh Therapeutics we have copies of several Beyond Blue publications including “What Works for Depression”.  Our pharmacists can sit down with you and review your medicines by conducting a Medscheck and also provide information about self help groups and online mental healths services.  For instance we can help you navigate the  government web-site www.mindhealthconnect.org.au –  the easy way to find mental health and wellbeing information, support and services from Australia’s leading health providers, together in one place.  We also have the Pharmaceutical Society’s Self Care Fact cards on lifestyle topics such as relaxation techniques and sleep problems.

 

Show You Care About Beating Cancer

beating-cancerOver time, the daffodil flower has been regarded as a symbol of rebirth – a sign of the new beginnings that come with spring.
The Cancer Council of Australia (www.cancer.org.au) chose the daffodil as a sign of new life and hope that a cure for cancer will be found. This Daffodil Day, 28 August 2015, will see a major fundraiser for the Cancer Council of Australia with the theme of ‘Show you care about beating cancer.’ Every daffodil and every donation grows hope – hope for better treatments, hope for more survivors, and hope for a cancer-free future.

Every day in Australia, about 300 people are told they have a life-threatening cancer. The Cancer Council says an estimated 124,910 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year, with that number set to rise to 150,000 by 2020. One in two Australian men and one in three Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.

The good news is that while cancer is on the increase, death rates are falling and today more than 50 per cent of all cancers can be successfully treated. The survival rate for many common cancers has increased by 30% in the past two decades. However, there is still a long way to go, and Daffodil Day is one way of raising the funds that are needed to further increase the survival rate from cancers.

In Australia the most common cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) are prostate, colorectal (bowel), breast, melanoma and lung cancer.

The Cancer Council estimates that each year in Australia more than 6,000 deaths from cancer can be attributed to three major risk factors – inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables, inadequate physical activity, and being overweight and obese.

Tobacco is also a major cause of preventable disease. While Australia has been a world leader in tobacco control, thousands of people are still dying prematurely as a result of active and passive smoking.

Research highlights the need for behavioural and lifestyle changes as the key to cancer prevention. Developments and improved treatments for cancer have greatly improved health outcomes, but effective prevention strategies are the key to further improving these outcomes. Research shows that once cancer is diagnosed, modification of diet or the use of dietary supplements (such as vitamins or antioxidants) does not seem to alter the course of the disease.

At Fresh Therapeutics we provide advice on ways to keep healthy and prevent cancer. We can provide advice and support on how to achieve a healthy weight or how to quit smoking.

We have the ColoVantage Test Kit that is recommended by Bowel Cancer Australia as a screening test for bowel cancer. The test kit uses advanced scientific techniques to detect small amounts of bleeding in bowel movements, which may be an indication of colorectal disease (including bowel polyps). The recommendation for a positive test is for further investigation, often a colonoscopy.

We also stock Sunscreens and advice on how to prevent skin cancer in our Sense in the Sun Self Care Fact Card.

At Fresh Therapeutics we like to help our patients achieve a healthy lifestyle by making informed decisions about lifestyle choices.

Preventing Falls and Brain Injury

fall-and-brain-injuryThis month you may notice people walking around wearing distinctive bright blue beanies. Those people are joining BANGONABEANIE – a national campaign to raise awareness for Brain Injury Awareness Week, which runs from 17–23 August 2015.

The objective of Brain Injury Awareness Week is to increase education and awareness of brain injury, raise funds, and develop sustainable and mutually-beneficial partnerships with related organisations across the country.

Brain injury is common, affecting over 1 in 12 Australians, often with no visible signs that they are experiencing ongoing issues. While the outcome of the injury depends largely on the nature and severity of the injury itself, appropriate treatment plays a vital role in the level of recovery.

The terms ‘head injury’ and ‘acquired brain injury’ (ABI), are widely used to describe all types of brain damage which occur after birth (with the exception of foetal alcohol spectrum disorder – FASD).

ABI is a complex and individual condition. The damage can be caused through a variety of reasons including accident or trauma, stroke or other cardiovascular disease, alcohol or drug abuse. It can also occur through diseases of the brain, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), and dementia. ABI is distinct from intellectual disability. People with a brain injury may have difficulty controlling, coordinating and communicating their thoughts and actions but generally retain their intellectual abilities.

One of the biggest causes of ABI is accident or trauma – known as traumatic brain injury (TBI). Such injuries are the result of a blow to the head or other external force. While traffic accidents, sports injuries and assault account for some of these cases, a significant number of these injuries are caused by falls.

Falls are the most common accidents among older people. Changes to eyesight and balance, weaker muscles, stiff joints and slow reflexes can make people unsteady as they age. This can increase the many tripping hazards at home and in public places. It is important to ensure you have good lighting, wear supportive, non-slippery footwear and consider putting handrails around your home. Regular exercise at a moderate level on all or most days of the week is also important to improve flexibility, balance and muscle strength. As always, prevention is better than cure.

Certain medical conditions or medicines can also increase the risk of having a fall. There is a higher risk of falls when taking multiple medicines, starting a new medicine, or changing the dose of your medicine. Your pharmacist can help to identify medicine-related problems and provide advice on how to reduce or avoid side effects.

To reduce the chances of having a fall:

  • manage your medicines and medical conditions carefully
  • understand the effects of your medicines
  • move carefully – don’t rush
  • exercise regularly
  • wear supportive shoes
  • keep your home environment safe
  • ask for help if you feel unsteady
  • limit alcohol intake.

Falls are a major cause of brain injury and preventing falls is an important health consideration.

At Fresh Therapeutics we can sit down with you and your medicines and discuss which medicines may put you at risk of falls.  This is called a Medscheck. After the Medscheck we give you a print out of all the medicines you are taking including any you may have purchased from a Supermarket or Healthfood store. This list can be very helpful to have with you if you have to go to hospital or see other doctors.

We also have a Self Care Fact Card with more detailed information on preventing falls titled Preventing Falls. At Fresh Therapeutics we aim to help our patients lead a healthy life.

Understanding Medicines and Breastfeeding

medicine-and-breastfeedingThe first week of August, 1–7, is World Breastfeeding Week. In Australia, most babies (96%) are initially breastfed and it’s a key contributor to infant health. At this time, let’s consider taking medicines when breastfeeding.

Medicines can be defined as either prescription (only available with a prescription from a healthcare professional such as a doctor), over-the-counter (available without a prescription, often from a pharmacy) and complementary (e.g. herbal, natural and alternative medicines). Most medicines pass into breast milk but usually only in very small quantities. These quantities are generally too small to be harmful to the baby.

Many women will take some kind of medicine when breastfeeding. Some breastfeeding mothers may need to take medicine regularly to treat a medical condition. Others may take medicine occasionally when required to treat a sudden, limiting condition such as a headache, cough or cold. It is important when using any medicine while breastfeeding to consider the benefits to the mother compared with any risk it may pose to the baby. Discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist.

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CONSTIPATION

constipationConstipation is one of the most common bowel problems experienced by Australians and this condition can be distressing and debilitating.

Constipation is the term used to describe when your bowel motions are less frequent and you have trouble passing them as they are often hard and dry.

The Bristol Stool Chart describes the type pf stool that indicates constipation as either separate hard lumps like nuts (hard to pass) or sausage shaped but lumpy. (see http://www.continence.org.au/pages/bristol-stool-chart.html )

At times you may only be able to pass small amounts or have difficulty passing anything at all. Other signs of constipation may include pain, cramps or swelling in the abdominal area, or perhaps you leave the toilet feeling your bowel is not completely empty.

One of the common causes of constipation occurs because the colon (part of the digestive system) absorbs too much water from your food. If the food moves through the digestive system too slowly, too much water may be absorbed. The bowel contents at the end of the digestive process are then too dry and hard.

According to the Continence Foundation of Australia (www.continence.org.au) there are many things which can cause or worsen constipation including:

  • not eating enough fibre (fruit and vegetables, wholemeal bread, high-fibre cereals)
  • not drinking enough water – always drink more when you increase fibre in your diet
  • not doing enough exercise
  • anxiety, depression, grief
  • delaying the urge to go to the toilet
  • using laxatives for a long time
  • the side effects of some medicines (even some common ones like pain killers or iron tablets)
  • pregnancy
  • being overweight
  • not being able to go to the toilet because of poor mobility
  • some nerve diseases
  • some bowel problems like haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or diverticulitis
  • anorectal pain caused by haemorrhoids, fissures (tear in the skin of the anus) or birth trauma
  • a slow transit bowel which means it takes longer for the faeces to travel all the way to the rectum, so more water is removed over time and constipation is much more likely. This occurs where there is nerve damage such as with stroke, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis or trauma.

Our pharmacists can recommend some ways to help. One way to treat constipation is by taking a ‘laxative’. There are various types of laxatives including include bulking agents, lubricants, and stimulating/irritant laxatives and they all work differently so it’s important to talk to your pharmacist or doctor to consider which one is right for you.

The condition of severe constipation is the most common cause of faecal incontinence (or bowel leakage), especially in older people. This can occur because hard bowel motions are difficult to pass and may cause a partial blockage high up the bowel, resulting in watery bowel motions flowing around the constipated stool without warning. This is sometimes mistaken for diarrhoea.

In addition, constipation can affect bladder control and urinary continence. If you sometimes leak urine or feel that you need to frequently visit the toilet to pass urine, it could be that constipation is involved.

Another effect of constipation can be on your pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscle strength is important for both bladder and bowel control. These muscles can be weakened by straining due to constipation, pregnancy and childbirth, or perhaps heavy lifting. Strong pelvic floor muscles are necessary for bladder and bowel control – the ability to ‘hold on’. At Fresh Therapeutics we stock the Epi-No Pelvic Floor Trainer (http://www.epi-no.com.au/) or Laselle Kegel Exercisers that may be used to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.

You can also get more information on issues affecting your bowel such as the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s Self Care Health Information on Fibre and bowel health, Constipation and Haemorrhoids.